Answer: He absolutely did.
It’s far more subtle than the devastating evidence shown previously, but it is clearly visible when read within the context of Benedict’s erroneous ideas about the papacy, which we shall review as a primer. Also, the subtlety within the Declaratio is strategic, due to the criticality of this particular speech/document.
Before I explain this, we need to go over a couple things just to make sure you are framing this up properly in your mind, working from a true premise, and allowing linear thinking to do its work. The majority of reader comments I’ve received, whether they be positive or negative, reveal a disturbing level emotive reasoning. Don’t fall into this trap. Wishing for Francis not to be pope cannot play any role in your search for truth. Arriving at the conclusion that Pope Benedict failed in his attempt to bifurcate the papacy, therefore rendering his abdication invalid by reason of substantial error, cannot in any way be influenced by your dislike of Francis or out of a desire to see him removed/expunged. That’s called intellectual dishonesty. The flip side of this, and equally dishonest, is resisting the truth out of fear of ridicule or being seen as some sort of freak. PLEASE STOP… THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. Your feelings don’t have any bearing on what’s true, and the truth doesn’t care about your feelings. So put Francis out of your mind, demand absolute objectivity from yourself, and start with the Substantial Error supposition. Work through the available evidence, rationally judge the weight, and make your conclusion based on where the weight lies.
Before we get to the Declaratio, we need to review the smoking gun. This is from Benedict’s final general audience of 27 February 2013, the day before his invalid resignation did not become effective, where he exposes his erroneous notion of the indelible nature of the Petrine Ministry. In doing so, he directly contradicts all those previous statements where he claimed he was “renouncing”, “leaving”, and would then be Pontiff “no longer, but a simple pilgrim”. This is the lens through which we must evaluate the Declaratio (comments/emphasis mine):
Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005 (Ratzinger’s elevation to the papacy). The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated. I was able to experience, and I experience it even now, that one receives one’s life precisely when one gives it away. Earlier I said that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and feel great affection for him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of your communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.
The “always” is also a “for ever” – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. (<in his mind> the papal coronation indelibly anoints the pontiff in a distinct way, which is different from, and more profound than, the priestly or episcopal ordination/consecration). My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. (the indelibility is <in his mind> irrevocable – Benedict is pope forever, but <in his mind> now exercising only part of the Petrine ministry). I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way for a life which, whether active or passive, is completely given over to the work of God. HERE
“I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.” I wish I could find video to see if he winked when he said that.
In summary, Benedict erroneously believes that acceptance of the papacy itself confers an indelible and irrevocable character on the man who accepts it (similar to the indelible marks of ordination to the priesthood and consecration to the episcopate, except in the case of becoming pope, there is no such thing). Therefore <in his mind> he (Benedict) remains pope even after he “resigns” the governing office and passes the throne to the next “pope”.
This is SUBSTANTIAL ERROR. Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone doesn’t see it already at this point. But let’s press on.
In the original post where I declared with moral certainty the invalid abdication, we also entered into evidence as Exhibit B, Benedict’s decision to retain the papal title as an “emeritus”, to retain the vesture, to physically remain at the Vatican, etc etc. We also reviewed Exhibit C, Abp. Ganswein’s comments last year where he dropped the bombshell of an “Expanded Petrine Ministry.” These were not off the cuff remarks, but rather a formal, well-prepared speech on Benedict’s papacy, given at the Greg in Rome on 20 May 2016:
Archbishop Gänswein…said that Pope Francis and Benedict are not two popes “in competition” with one another, but represent one “expanded” Petrine Office with “an active member” and a “contemplative.”
“Therefore, from 11 February 2013, the papal ministry is not the same as before,” he said. “It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation that Benedict XVI has profoundly and lastingly transformed during his exceptional pontificate.”
He said that “before and after his resignation” Benedict has viewed his task as “participation in such a ‘Petrine ministry’. (Not in the governance of the Church in the world, but in its “essentially spiritual nature”, through prayer and suffering.)
“He left the Papal Throne and yet, with the step he took on 11 February 2013, he has not abandoned this ministry,” Gänswein explained, something “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.“ (Do you see how this echoes Benedict’s erroneous idea of the papal coronation being an irreversible event, creating an indelible/irrevocable mark on the recipient forever? It’s exactly the same idea Benedict put forth in his final general audience).
“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.” HERE
Not that we need any additional evidence, but many are clamoring that they just won’t accept reality unless it can be shown that these ideas/intentions can actually be found in the Declaratio itself. So let’s have a look at that, shall we?
As I said at the top, the evidence in the actual Declaratio is far more subtle, out of necessity. Benedict, knowing the extraordinary nature of what he was about to do, would have spent an enormous amount of time writing this short speech. Every single word would have been chosen with great care. Keep in mind, the actual Declaratio was written and read out by Benedict in Latin, so you need to take a look at that as well. But the point is this:
THE DECLARATIO IS PRIMARILY DIRECTED TOWARD ITS LONE OBJECTIVE: TO HAVE THE ABDICATION ACCEPTED AS LEGITIMATE BY THE CARDINALS, AND THUS, A CONCLAVE CONVOKED TO NAME A “SUCCESSOR.”
So it’s not surprising that Benedict did not speak of the false bifurcation as openly in the Declaratio as he did several weeks later, in his final general audience, at which point he knew his plan had worked, all the wheels in motion, conclave convened, etc. But he also couldn’t help himself, and made sure his meaning was clear if we look with eyes to see.
So now let’s break down the Declaratio of 11 Feb 2013 in its entirety, bathed in the light of the aforementioned evidence. English, Latin, and seven other languages HERE .
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
He’s saying he is inadequate. His faculties are insufficient to fully execute the entire Petrine Ministry. He needs help.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
He’s still up for the prayer and suffering part, but not the words and deeds. The governance part will need to go to someone else, a new participant in a new “expanded Petrine ministry”, because he feels inadequate for the governance role.
Now comes the money quote. This is the part that Benedict absolutely had to get right, to ensure the resignation looked so rock solid that no one would question it. But yet even within the same sentence we can, with hindsight, see what he did here.
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
“In such a way?” Why are those words in there? Those words are a qualifier. He didn’t renounce completely, he renounced in a certain way. Because as we’ve already seen from his own lips, Benedict doesn’t believe it’s possible for him to completely renounce the Petrine ministry, due to its <in his mind> permanent and irrevocable nature. So he is <in his mind> vacating the “See of Rome”, such that a successor must be named to administer the governing office, while Benedict retains the spiritual role of the prayerful suffering servant pope. Nowhere in this sentence, in any language, will you find the words, “I fully renounce the Papacy,” because in Benedict’s mind, that’s not possible.
“Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”
So there you have it. Come join the party. The truth will set you free.
51 thoughts on “FAQ: Did Pope Benedict reveal his intent to bifurcate the papacy in the actual Declaratio?”
Thank you for your rebuttal, beautifully based on reason and not emotion. You have no idea what a rare bird you are.
The Declaratio must bear scrutiny within the context of the other contemporaneous evidence. That’s the only way to honestly evaluate Benedict’s intent. I don’t see any way to square his idea of irrevocability with the idea of a full resignation. His words were “Always is also forever…my decision to resign the ‘active’ exercise of the ministry does not revoke this.” His intent was to only partially resign, because in his mind, a full resignation is impossible. And so in attempting to partially resign, he resigned not at all. Ganswein’s speech three years later clearly shows this in not me misinterpreting Benedict’s words, but rather confirming them all the more.
Just out of curiosity, I’m wondering if the above comment is in reference to my comment from the other day. And if so, is there a particular reason why my comment wasn’t posted?
In any event, a’ propos the statement: “The Declaratio must bear scrutiny within the context of other contemporaneous evidence”: in order to bolster the argument for a “Substantial Error,” I agree; but in order to determine the juridical validity of the fact of the abdication itself and properly speaking, I deny.
Further, your statement below–“The words don’t reveal his [Benedict’s] true intent”–tends to vitiate this entire discussion, insofar as we could apply that same hermeneutic to what Benedict XVI said before or after the Declaratio (or to anyone else’s words on this matter). In other words, if the plain meaning of words in a formal, juridical, canonical act are deceptive (according to your argument), then a fortiori the words in less formal, ambiguous or even second-hand statements cannot be seen as revealing his true intent.
CW, thanks for coming back, I accidentally deleted you original comment as I was posting the reply to it. WordPress doesn’t let me retrieve deleted comments, as far as I know.
It comes down to this. According to Canon 188, the resignation is invalid if made under Substantial Error. The words used in the resignation make no difference. This post was meant only to show that even in the Declaratio itself, Benedict showed his hand. That’s all. Benedict would still be in Substantial Error even if there where nothing at all pointing to it in the Declaratio. Your conclusion is the opposite, that the juridical validity of the act depends on the words of resignation alone. This denies Canon 188.
One question…If B XVI erroneously believed that he could not fully resign the papacy, why did he visit the tomb of Celestine V, who clearly did fully resign, and leave his pallium there?
Benedict doesn’t think Celestine fully resigned either, even if Celestine thought, rightly, that he did. Benedict thinks the papacy is irrevocable, period.
I don’t necessarily disagree, but why is the effect of his attempted partial resignation that he did not in fact resign, as opposed to he did not in fact retain a contemplative role? With or without the “in such a way” qualifier, he states “the See . . . will be vacant.” Assume you are correct that the See cannot be split in such a way (to which I agree). If he is mistaken about the qualifier (“such a way” that it can be split), but states the See is vacant, why has he not validly “emptied the See”, and is simply mistaken about having retained anything?
This is a great question. To paraphrase, you are saying intent doesn’t really matter, that even if Benedict intended to retain a portion of the papacy, because he’s wrong about that part and his pronouncing the See of Rome vacant would still take effect.
We know this is false, because Canon 188 renders it false. If a pope “resigns” under Substantial Error, it renders the resignation invalid. And wrongly thinking a mere man could alter the divinely instituted Petrine Ministry is about as Substantially Erroneous as you can get. I put a more thorough examination of this at the original post of 3 July.
Canon 188, in its Vatican-website English translation, has the prepositional phrase “out of…substantial error.” You translate it “under…substantial error.” Why do you think your translation is better?
Neither way seems to me to support your interpretation. Whether it’s “under,” “out of, or “ex,” it seems to me to be talking about the invalidated resignation being a result or consequence of the substantial error, not somehow the error itself.
To resign “in such a way…that the See is vacant” logically excludes anything other than a complete resignation, it seems to me, and the use of that language seems to signal and indicate that any contrary intention can be excluded. I really don’t understand why you reach a totally opposite conclusion (regarding what you call “the money quote”–I think your other quotes support your argument).
I am not a canon lawyer, just an interested person reading your argument and trying to think it through logically and trying to understand what the English translations of your papal quotes mean grammatically and logically.
Please read the original post wherein I clearly lay out the argument, using Benedict’s own words from his last official Audience.
I have just discovered your blog. I have only recently discovered Ann Barnhardt’s podcasts and articles. I have been wondering for years if Pope Benedict could still be the real pope. I am a convert, and what do I know, but it seemed that perhaps he abdicated under duress. I didn’t know enough to analyze his declarations. But what I am wondering now, is anyone else saying this? Is it just you and Ann Barnhardt. Are there really only three faithful cardinals? I am a traditionalist now. I came to the Church through the Novus Ordo because I knew nothing different. My husband and I are in our sixties. We often talk about what will happen if the FSSP parish we attend (an hour and 15 mins from our home) is done away with. We often talk of moving closer to this parish. Or we could drive an hour and a half the other way to an SSPX parish. But that is through heavy big city traffic, and as we get older, who knows if we can do that. We even wonder if we should turn to the Orthodox if this happens.
Hang in there. It’s going to get much worse. We know from Matt 24:22 and elsewhere that the calamitous deception will be so bad, that NO ONE would be saved had those days not been cut short. Of your situation, remember that God does not expect the impossible from us. But if moving your household is the best thing for your eternal soul, that’s probably not impossible. You finally found the Church founded by Christ. Hold on tight.
It’s intellectually dishonest to fail to fully investigate the 1958 conclave. This hardly began with Benedict/Francis.
The key words are “in such a way that the See will be vacant.”
No matter what crack-brained notions Ratzinger may entertain, those words are unambiguous. He intended the effect of his resignation to be an empty See–no bishop of Rome.
If there is no Bishop of Rome, there is no Pope.
The See became empty at the appointed time.
Ratzinger became a bishop who HAD BEEN Pope. An old man with weird ideas about the papacy. But NOT in any real sense still the Pope or a Pope.
In order to be invalidating, any substantial error in Ratzinger’s mind must directly nullify the act of resigning. The errors in his mind are bizarre, but none of them touches on his explicit, express intention that the See would be vacant. That from a certain moment there would be no Bishop of Rome.
Concentrate on the weight of the evidence. You can’t point to one phrase in isolation and then say none of the rest of the very convincing evidence doesn’t matter. He attempted to bifurcate the papacy because he needed to “resign”, to get a new man in their for whatever reason, but all the while believing his acceptance of the papacy to be irrevocable. So he had to find a way to remain pope even while a new pope was elected. If this doesn’t rise to the level of Substantial Error as anticipated in Canon 188, nothing does.
And Just to be clear, his Substantial Error renders the actual words of the resignation meaningless, because invalid means invalid. I was just trying to show in this post that he actually did provide markers right in the Declaratio that can easily be seen when viewed in light of the other evidence.
I agree with Vincent. The “money quote” does not seem to support docmx001’s argument, it seems to evidence against the argument.
So calling it “the money quote” is rhetorically unwise, since the label seems to imply the quote is necessary and sufficient for cashing in the argument.
No, the argument is won based on Benedict’s own words in his last General Audience. His words in the abdication announcement merely support his Substantial Error as outlined therein.
Totally right, Vincent, that is!
Take a step back, folks. It’s clear to everyone that Benedict intended to renounce at least part of the papacy, and it’s clear he intended for the cardinals to convoke a consistory to elect a “new pope”. That’s why the Declaratio had to be convincing.
None of this is relevant with regards to his Substantial Error rendering the resignation invalid. This possibility is provided for in Canon Law, and you cannot just keep pointing at a phrase within an invalid act, saying LOOK LOOK LOOK. The phrase is contained within an invalid act. Think rationally.
Yes, but how does vacant mean halved? In all due respect, as I am neither canonist or lawyer….
Because the words don’t reveal his true intent. Benedict is in Substantial Error in believing the papacy to be irrevocable, and persists in his Substantial Error in attempting to bifurcate the papacy so that he can remain inside of it even after his “resignation”. It’s delusional. So the words contained in the Declaratio are already rendered invalid be the Substantial Error in Benedict’s brain before he wrote and spoke it.
The error pertains to the ministry of Peter not the seat of the see of Peter.
That doesn’t matter. It remains Substantial Error, if there ever was such a thing. Canon 188 exists for a reason.
You have to argue from the Latin text, which is the original and official version. Arguing from an English translation is like Protestants propounding erroneous points from their erroneous translations. “Ita ut” simply introduces a result clause. “Ita” reinforces the notion that it is a result clause rather than a purpose clause. See any decent Latin grammar (vide, for example, http://www.textkit.com). “Vacet” means “vacet,” and he says this of the Sedes, “sedes Sancti Petri vacet,” not of the Petrine ministry.
Father, with due respect, the point of this particular post was merely to point out that Benedict left markers of the bifurcation in the Declaratio itself, including repeatedly referring to the “munus” aspect which he identifies with being inadequate to execute himself: “ad munus Petrinum aeque administrandum.”
I wrote this post in order to point out that even in the speech/document in which Benedict had to be absolutely sure no one could initially say HEY.. HE DIDN’T REALLY REDIGN… he still left markers of what was in his mind.
And since we know from the other evidence that he clearly intended to bifurcate the papacy, because he thinks the Petrine Ministry irrevocable, we already arrive at Substantial Error, which renders the phrasing of the Declaratio irrelevant, as incredible as that may seem.
Because he did not feel equal to the obligations of the munus, he realized he had to relinquish the whole. That is why he says “Sedes Sancti Petri vacet.” “Vacet” is, of course, related to the word “vacuum.” Empty. This is not difficult to understand. A long-time university professor may retain a perfectly good command of his subject but find that his health does not permit him to continue as a professor. Or he may simply want more time with his family. He could have any number of valid reasons. At which point he resigns his chair and becomes emeritus. Then someone else gets the chair, and it is not his any longer.
Being Pope involves several important aspects, including intelligence, health, and even simply the plain willingness. A Pope could rightly resign and thus leave the See of Peter vacant for any one of these reasons. This would nevertheless make his resignation total and not partial or shared.
The relevant canon for papal resignations is Can. 332 §2. “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.”
Substantial Error is not even in the picture.
The alleged “evidence” that he wished to bifurcate the papacy came only years after the fact from a third party. Thus, too late, and nothing more than speculation or hearsay.
Father, respectfully, the evidence did not come years later. While the confirmation came three years later, from +Ganswein, but the evidence exists in Benedict’s last general audience, on the day before he falsely vacated the See, which I have demonstrated in this post and in others.
Also, your second paragraph is of course entirely correct. Except that is not what happened here.
When one is out of step with everyone else, it might not be a bad idea to consider it is you who are out of step and not everyone else.
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke missed this entirely but you caught it? Can you identify one well known Canon Law expert who agrees with you that Pope Francis ain;t Pope?
Ed Peters also was blind to this obvious ruse…others also it seems…
Are you a lawyer or a canon law expert with practical experience in the field?
I remember you being convinced the liberals were gonna deny Donald the Presidency by getting the electors to vote for somebody else.
Don’t worry so much
Do you know how to make a rational argument? Try sticking to the facts, and feel free to refute the evidence. But please stop emoting.
ABS does advance, in a sense, a rational argument; an argument from authority.
“If such-and-such a person, expert, does not believe this, why do you, amateur?”
It is rational. It is not necessarily persuasive; if for no other reason than how do we know that Cardinal Burke, for instance, does not believe this true?
I’m sure that I’m not the only former seminarian on this blog, and anyone who’s ever been, or is, a seminarian, religious, etc., can tell you that the first thing they drill into your head is AVOID SCANDAL. Followed shortly by INTERNAL FORUM and EXTERNAL FORUM.
That, combined with the age and the slow, ponderous movement of the Church, and the instincts against innovation and quick judgement which are the bulwark of her duty to safeguard and preserve the deposit of faith rather than hare off after every human innovation, make the first, knee-jerk reaction of any churchman, especially any prelate – conceal the problem! Deal with it internally! AVOID SCANDAL!
That’s what got the Church in so much trouble with the pedophelia scandals. That’s part of the reason the few faithful bishops aren’t speaking out more clearly now.
This is, of course, disregarding any other leverage those in charge of the Vatican have over these bishops – whether sordid like blackmail or hostage-wise like a threat to call another General Council and ramrod all sorts of impiety and impurity through it.
A lot on readers seem to be confused by Benedict’s use of the word “vacant”. In Benedict’s mind the See being vacant did not mean he was no longer Pope. Please read this article on the “The Bishop Emeritus” at America magazine from 2010, as it is very informative.
The idea of a bishop emeritus is in itself a novelty from the 1970s which most do not understand. That is why the Vatican did a study on it which is quoted in the article. When a bishop becomes emeritus the See he was at is now vacant, BUT the important part is, he is still a bishop: he is a member of the college of bishops. He has just lost jurisdiction of the diocese, but retains other aspects of the bishopric. Since he was consecrated as a bishop, he cannot be un-consecrated. This where Benedict makes the error. He thought he could become pope emeritus and the See would be VACANT (until the new pope is elected) WHILE HE REMAINED A “member of the papacy”. There cannot be a Pope Emeritus in the way there could be a bishop emeritus because the papacy is not a college as the college of bishops is so he cannot be a “member” i.e. retaining any aspect of the papacy. Furthermore the papacy is an office that a bishop holds, not some thing than someone is specially consecrated for, as this post states. So the idea of “once a Pope always a Pope” does not hold in the same way that “once a bishop always a bishop” does.
I hope this helps readers understand the use of the word “vacant” in the way Benedict was had envisioned for this “expanded papacy” as a Pope “Emeritus”.
Doesn’t “emeritus” in these contexts mean “having served as”? If so, why would it be inaccurate to call a retired Pope a Pope Emeritus? If not, what does the word mean? Can you support your argument using the proper definition of the (Latin) word?
I’m not sure I know the answers; I’m just asking.
He insisted on continuing the papal title, papal name, and papal form of address, “His Holiness”…
Technically the latin root of emeritus is “earned”. It is usually used in academia for a professor who has retired. The definition an emeritus really depends on how it is used in a particular organization. Emeritus could be just an honorary title, or the person could retain some of their duties. So it is necessary to view how the term is used in the Catholic Church specifically.
Even though the word is latin, it was not a church legal term until the year 1970. Until then a bishops and priests died “with their boots on”, so to speak. Bishops who could no longer fulfill their duties because of advanced age were transfered to a titular see, so that they could remain Bishops but not have any real jurisdictional duties. Now however, the Bishop who resign will retain ties with their diocese, but will lose jurisdiction of the diocese after they resign. It is said that they are “resigned but still ministering”. The Bishop and Bishop Emeritus are to have a fraternal relationship. The Bishop Emeritus can offer prayer and counsel, but is not to interfere with the governance of the diocese. He is properly called a Bishop by virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college of Bishops.
The title “Pope Emeritus” creates a unprecedented and confusing situation. How does this relate to the office of the papacy? Is it even possible to have this title, since a Pope is very different from a Bishop? These are legitimate questions that have not been officially answered. We need to look at all the evidence, including the words and actions of Benedict. It is sad that it is left to us to figure this out without official answers from the Church.
The root of Benedict’s error is his belief that an irrevocable ontological change takes place when accepting the papacy. Therefore, in his mind, fully renouncing the Petrine Ministry is a metaphysical impossibility.
If BXVI’s understanding of the papacy was flawed enough to invalidate his resignation, could it be argued that his entire papacy was null based upon his “defectively consenting” to the Petrine Office?
Nope. First, we don’t know if he developed this error before of after assuming the throne. Second, it only becomes a factor due to his attempted resignation. In other words, the substantial error only comes into play due to its provision in canon 188 relating to the “resignation”.
I think Benedict XVI was toppled & turfed out; it was a coup d’etat. I think he was a good enough theologian to know what he was doing – he co-operated with the st gallen conspirators, but only up to a certain point. No doubt it did not please Antipope Bergoglio that Benedict continued to wear the papal attire. They could force him out, but they couldn’t force what clothes he chose to wear. Nor could they stop Ganswein from dropping his bombshell. I’d say that was one more sign that he did not freely resign, but it was part of the palace coup. They had decided quite abruptly that his time was up and they could no longer stand him being Pope. They were “the wolves” that he was afraid of. We have substantiated evidence of their plot, ever since Cardinal Martini told him he would have a ‘limited’ pontificate. Notice he never spoke, like John Paul II did, about the future of the pontificate. In fact that’s why John Paul II passed Universi Dominus Gregis, which clearly nullifies “latae sententiae” the conspiracy. So I think there are SEVERAL grounds the resignation is questionable and several grounds the subsequent election, part of the same coup mind you, is even more dubious. St Robert Bellarmine makes it perfectly clear that a heretic is not even a Catholic, so therefore he cannot be validly elected Pope. Yes, I think the whole matter must be seen in its entirety – that the sudden resignation (he had travel plans, by the way) and the subsequent election are BOTH parts of the same OVERTHROW and SUBSTITUTION of a thorough modernist for one who had shown himself a friend, in the end, to Holy Tradition.
I’m following these posts on the Resignation of Benedict XVI with interest. These points on Substantial Error and Moral Certitude deserve consideration and I would add the sense many Catholics have that Benedict remains the true Pope,